the Strange Mystique of Bernie Sanders

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

(I want to personally thank Senator Sanders for announcing this week that he’s running for president again, since his campaign will give a second life to my book on his 2016 campaign, Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes from a Failed Revolution. A lot has changed in the past two years. But, for better or worse, Bernie remains pretty much the same strange politician he has always been. Here’s the introduction. –JSC]

Out of college, money spent
See no future, pay no rent
All the money’s gone, nowhere to go
Any jobber got the sack
Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling…

—Lennon and McCartney, “You Never Give Me Your Money.”

Bernie Sanders had come home. Home to New York. Home to the city that fit his accent. Home to the borough that suited his cranky demeanor, his Jewish heritage, his gritty politics. Bernie Sanders wasn’t Clean Gene McCarthy. Sanders could be petulant, moody, even vindictive. A little bit of Brooklyn was still hardwired into his character. Frankly, Sanders always seemed like an interloper in Vermont. Too prickly, urban and disputatious for that verdant and mountainous sliver of WASPish New England. If more of the Brooklyn Bernie had leaked out during the campaign, things might have ended differently.

On a cool night in early April, Bernie stood on the stage in Prospect Park, facing more than 28,000 adoring fans, the largest gathering of the campaign. As he…

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